AOSIS: Latest Global Stocktake text lacks commitment to fossil fuel reduction

The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) representatives expressed disappointment with the latest Global Stocktake (GST) text, published at 1730 Dubai time on 11 December. They point out the absence of any firm commitments to phase down or phase out fossil fuels.

John Silk, the Minister of Natural Resources and Commerce of the Republic of the Marshall Islands and head of its delegation, expressed grave concerns in a meeting with the media on the sidelines of COP28. He aligned with the AOSIS in declaring the text a “death sentence” for low-lying nations like his, vowing not to accept an outcome that spells devastation for vulnerable communities.

“The Republic of the Marshall Islands did not come here to sign our death warrant. We came here to fight for 1.5 and for the only way to achieve that: a fossil fuel phase-out. What we have seen today is unacceptable. We will not go silently to our watery graves. We will not accept an outcome that will lead to devastation for our country and for millions, if not billions, of the most vulnerable people and communities.”

Mona Ainuu, representing Niue, also known as the Rock of Polynesia, echoed these sentiments. As a mother and an island resident, she voiced her disappointment and sadness at the lack of commitment. Highlighting the existential threat posed by rising sea levels and the loss of land and lives in the Pacific, Ainuu called for immediate action and support from the international community.

She said, “I came here as a mother of a 12-year-old and I’ve been talking and talking and talking for nearly two weeks. And to hear that text is very shameful and I’m very disappointed of course. And when we talk about what’s happening, there’s a lot of pledges. We need countries to commit to what they’ve pledged already. We need help in the Pacific. We’re drowning in the sea level rise.”

The GST text, crucial for guiding future environmental policy, mentions the term ‘fossil fuel’ only three times and conspicuously avoids the phrase “oil and gas”. While it acknowledges the need to reduce fossil fuel consumption and production, it needs a sense of urgency. It makes the phasing out of coal optional, raising questions about its effectiveness in combating the urgent climate crisis.

COP28 President Sultan Al Jaber emphasised the need for heightened ambition, particularly in fossil fuel language. He urged all parties to work collaboratively and efficiently, highlighting the necessity of a united approach.

He said, “We have made progress, but we still have a lot to do. You know that remains to be agreed, and I want you to deliver the highest ambition also in fossil fuel language. My door remains open to all of you. Now, we must all work much faster, much smarter, and we have no option but to work together. We must work collaboratively, and we must work together.” (nsh)

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